The one that got away. Malaysia nearly won the coveted Thomas Cup (pic) after 22 years but came up short against Japan who won 3-2 in the final in New Delhi on Sunday.
NEW DELHI: Regret was on Tan Boon Heong’s mind as he looked at the Thomas Cup while waiting for the prize-giving ceremony to start on Sunday.
It was a case of so close yet so far for the 26-year-old Boon Heong as Malaysia went down 3-2 to Japan in the final at the Siri Fort Indoor Stadium.
With former winners China and Indonesia failing to reach the final, Malaysia were the favourites to reclaim the Cup they last won in 1992.
“This was our best chance to win the Thomas Cup. We tried our best but we failed in our mission. The Japanese were more daring and took their chances well,” lamented Boon Heong.
Boon Heong and Hoon Thien How lost to Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa 21-12, 17-21, 19-21 in the first doubles. Earlier, Lee Chong Wei had given Malaysia a 1-0 lead by beating Kenichi Tago 21-12, 21-16 in the first singles.
“If we had won the first doubles as well, it would have been a different situation,” added Boon Heong, playing in his fifth Finals.
Japan went on to lead 2-1 when Kento Momota outplayed Chong Wei Feng 21-15, 21-17. Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong gave Malaysia a glimmer of hope by beating Keigo Sonoda-Takeshi Kamura 19-21, 21-17, 21-12 to tie it at 2-2.
In the deciding third singles, Liew Daren lost 12-21, 21-18, 17-21.
Thomas Cup project leader Rashid Sidek admitted too that it will be harder for Malaysia to mount a serious challenge for the Cup in two years’ time.
“The competition will be tougher. We will not just have to contend with the likes of Denmark, South Korea, Indonesia and China but also Japan now.
“All these teams exposed some of their new players here and they will be ready for the next competition. We have no choice but to hope our players can rise again to the challenge in 2016,” said Rashid.
Malaysia will have no choice but to rely again on Chong Wei to lead the singles challenge although he will be 33 then.
Chong Wei has promised to stay on and compete until the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Rashid said he had no complaints with his players’ performances.
“There was better team unity this time. It is a different thing playing in a team event compared to an individual competition.
“Chong Wei played well and so did the others like Wei Feng, Wee Kiong, V Shem, Boon Heong and Thien How. I am happy that Daren fought all the way and did not give up. He was just unlucky at the crucial moments,” added Rashid.